In the spring, pre-kindergarten students delve into their World Course studies of Our Neighborhood and Our City by visiting businesses, landmarks and other vital community resources. There, students learn about how people work together to take care of our city and to make it the wonderful place that it is to live. This past year, the Purple Fish and Birds classes had the opportunity to learn more about the parks that we have around our neighborhood and how they are taken care of.
We had the opportunity to meet with Barbara Vaccaro, a local supervisor for the NYC Parks Department at one of our local parks here in Chelsea. Ms. Vaccaro spoke with the Fish and Birds about all the hard work that goes into maintaining, renovating, and protecting our many city parks. The Fish and Birds had many questions for Ms. Vaccaro about her job, ranging from, “How do you know which plants to plant?” to “Do you sleep in the park at night to take care of it?” After sharing about her job and those of the other workers in the Parks Department, Ms. Vaccaro told us about some ways that 5-year-olds like the Fish and Birds could help take care of parks, such as picking trash up after themselves, helping to plant flowers, pulling weeds and helping to clear leaves and debris after a storm.
When we were done speaking with Ms. Vaccaro, we had a bit of time left before we needed to return to school and teachers told the Fish and Birds that they could play. However, they spontaneously began acting on what they had just learned. They pulled weeds, made piles of tree branches to be discarded and with Ms. Vaccaro’s help, began to clean off some sculptures that would soon be repainted for the summer season. Their enthusiasm inspired us to return for several more trips to the park during our usual playground times to continue this work. In fact, we heard from several families that their children had brought them back to the park on the weekends to show them what we had been working on. This project was a great opportunity for our students to learn that even at a young age, we all have ways that we can help to better our community.